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These 8 Foods Cause the Most Allergic Reactions

These 8 Foods Cause the Most Allergic Reactions

By Ali Spencer, RD

Oct 11, 2016

Updated Oct 25, 2023

5 min read


A food allergy is defined as when your body has an immune response to the protein in a food. So how do you know if you have a food allergy? Symptoms can be range from mild such as a runny nose, or swelling, itchy skin, or they can be very severe such as anaphylactic shock.

Common Allergy Symptoms

  • Itching or swelling in and around the mouth
  • Runny nose
  • Stomach pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis

Even though there are lots of foods that can cause allergies, just eight foods cause 90% of reactions. The most common allergenic foods are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (walnuts and cashews)
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, cod, and tilapia)
  • Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, and crab)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

So what causes food allergies? Some people are born with food allergies, but they can also develop later on. Food allergies are more common in children, and many kids outgrow them.

What should you do if you have a food allergy?

If you have a reaction to food, you need to see your doctor. It’s important to have an allergy test to find out if it's actually a food allergy. The only treatment for a food allergy is complete and strict avoidance of that specific food. Many times food-allergic ingredients are labeled differently than their common names. You can work with a Registered Dietitian to learn about ingredients to avoid, food substitutions, label reading and food preparation techniques that eliminate cross-contamination.